AFTER a record-low road toll in 2013, police are horrified by the number of fatalities so far this year, with an average of more than one death per day on New South Wales roads in 2014.
A total of 26 people have lost their lives in crashes this year, compared with 12 during the same period in 2013.
This is also 10 more than the three-year average.
Of those killed this year 15 were drivers, three were passengers, five were motorcyclists, two were pedestrians and one was riding a bicycle.
Five of the deaths occurred within one 20-hour period between January 5 and .
Among the fatalities this year were a man near Moree, following a crash on the Gwydir Highway (January 22), a 74-year-old man following a crash at Gunning, between Goulburn and Yass (January 14) and a four-year-old girl after the car in which she was travelling struck a tree near Dubbo (January 11).
“It’s not been a great start to the year in terms of road trauma, with an average of about one fatality per day so far in 2014,” NSW Deputy Commissioner of Police - Specialist Operations, Catherine Burn, said.
“This is disappointing, coming so soon after a record-low road toll in 2013, and police will be doing everything within our power to bring down that average,” Deputy Commissioner Burn said.
Extra police are currently being mobilised across the state for Operation Safe Return, NSW Police’s annual Australia Day long weekend traffic-enforcement campaign.
The operation starts at 12.01am, Friday, January 24 and will run through until 11.59pm, Monday, January 27.
Double demerits will be in place over the entire long weekend for speeding, seatbelt and motorcycle-helmet offences.
In particular, police will be targeting the “fatal five” contributors to road trauma: fatigue; speed; driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; not wearing a seatbelt; and distraction/inattention.
“We are anticipating vastly increased volumes of traffic on our roads this weekend, as people head away for the long weekend and come home from school holidays,” Deputy Commissioner Burn said.
“No matter where you are in NSW, you will see an increased number of police on the roads, ensuring you obey the law, drive to conditions and get to your destination safely.
“We’re urging all motorists to take extreme care this weekend.
Police want you to spend your time off with family and friends; not recovering in a hospital, getting charged at a police station, or planning the funeral of a loved one,” Deputy Commissioner Burn said.
During last year’s Operation Safe Return, police conducted 110,134 breath tests, charging 390 motorists with drink driving.
They also booked 2,502 motorists for speeding, issued 4,761 infringements for other traffic offences and attended 219 major crashes.
There were no fatalities recorded on NSW roads during last year’s operation.